Negotiating the Best Assembly Price

This is the third article in an 9-part series with tips on planning, producing, and paying for your school assembly program. The complete School Assembly Handbook will be available online at my website for educational school assemblies.

This is what you’ve been waiting for:  the secret techniques to unlock discounted rates…

Ask if your presenter offers discounts. It’s worth a try! They may have ideas and suggestions that you never would have thought of.

Inquire about block-booking discounts. You save money if another school in your area that would like to book the same program on the same day. Not all presenters are the same. Some won’t offer a discount like this, others will provide more. However, in talking with many performers, most are happy to give you a price break if they can do more work.

Bundle services. If you’re having a science assembly to kick off your Science Fair, ask the presenter to see if they also host workshops or classroom visits. If they’re already at your school, the cost to add additional services may be more reasonable than hiring a specialist to come out separately.

Daytime & Family Night Show Discount. If the presenter can offer a different show during the day and evening, they may be willing to give you a special rate for the additional program. This can also insure good attendance, as kids go home that afternoon talking about the fun assembly program and literally drag their mom or dad back for the evening show.

“We have never had so many people attend one of our Family Enrichment Nights! I think doing the assembly during the day really boosted our attendance in the evening. The kids obviously loved your performance!… he said his friends think I am a cool Mom because I brought you to the school. I am so glad we had you come.”
     -Shelly Smith, Cedar Valley PTA

Credit for Product sales. Some presenters have programs where they will sell product (i.e., yo-yos) in exchange for a lower performance fee. This can be a touchy subject as there are families who don’t have extra money for these sort of items. You’ll know whether this is an option for your school or not.

Some performers will charge admission for evening Family Night programs and sell items afterward in return for doing a free or discounted show.

Inquire about fundraising options. Fundraising companies aren’t the only ones who offer money-making opportunities. Some performers also can show you ways to creatively raise money to help offset the cost of their program.

Creative Assembly Fundraising Ideas

  • Sell raffle tickets for an item that is donated by one of your PTA members. It doesn’t need to be a physical “item”; it could be that the winning child gets to eat lunch with the principal or move to the front of the lunch line for the entire week. Kids dig this stuff, and it costs you nothing!
  • Host a Family Night show and sell refreshments and concessions.
  • Combine a Family Night show with a fundraiser that you are currently doing. I.e., host Literature Night while having your annual book sale. These activities complement each other and get families (with money) into the school to celebrate reading.
  • Find a sponsor. Local businesses, service organizations, and retailers will occasionally pay for a program. They receive recognition and build goodwill. Of course, encourage one of your classrooms to write the business a thank-you.
  • Apply for grants. Ask teachers, administrators, and check at your district office for possible grant money. 

While we’re on the subject of money, here are a few other questions to ask:

  • Do you have a contract? (Get your agreement in writing.)
  • Will you send me an invoice? (Always.)
  • When do you need to be paid?*
  • Who should the check be made to?

*If payment is made through the school district they may pay with a Purchase Order. Frequently these cannot be processed and paid until after the service is rendered. Let your presenter know this in advance.

Current law requires that you receive a W-9 for independent contractors that you hire and pay $600 or more during the year. (Check with your accountant for more details.) Assembly pros will be able to furnish this along with any other documentation you need (business license, insurance, UBI number, etc.).

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